18 Oct, 2019

What Does It Take To Be A Leader

Learn from one of the pioneers of equality how to stand up for what you believe in, bring out the potential in others, create powerful alliances and, in doing so leave a legacy in the world.

When I speak to leaders and aspiring leaders, one of the challenges they most often raise is that of building engagement in their people. How can they get their teams to be more motivated, go the extra mile and work towards the vision of the organisation?

My reply, most often is: are you the leader they want to follow? That, in the end, is the key to leadership.

When you look across history and see the great leaders this ability to inspire others through their actions is a common thread. Let’s just take one example (but feel free to look at other leaders) to see what you can learn from them and apply in your own life.

A woman in a man’s world

When we think of feminism and gender equality the mid-to-late 20th Century usually springs to mind. It goes back 100s of years before that though. In 16th century England Elizabeth I came to the throne in a turbulent time in Europe and, through sheer inspirational leadership created one of the most prosperous and influential eras in British history.

She featured in my podcast this week if you want to know more about her, but take a look at these three aspects of her reign and see how you can apply this in your own life.

Stand up for what you believe in

When Elizabeth came to the throne, England was emerging from a religious crisis. Her father, Henry VIII had broken with the catholic church but then her sister Mary took the throne and, as a devout catholic, had persecuted protestants. Everyone was waiting to see what Elizabeth would now do.

What she did was to say that people had the right to worship as they wished and she balanced her official role as head of the Church of England with the faiths of others. Her reign demonstrated a balance between the bold and assertive behaviours typical of her predecessors and the compassion and tolerance needed to heal a nation.

Create prosperity by supporting the potential of others

The 16th Century became known as a golden age of prosperity and was the era which saw England reach out and become one of the great powers across several continents. This was partly due to the ability Queen Elizabeth had to see ability in others and to support it.

She was a patroon of the arts – most notably inviting performances of several of Shakespeare’s plays at her palaces. Other artists, writers and musicians of the era were similarly supported. She also supported exploration with both Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh benefitting from her sponsorship.

She was able to see how giving support and attention to others allowed her to create an environment that everyone could benefit from.

Create powerful alliances that work

In the middle-ages, the main way women formed alliances was through politically motivated marriage. Elizabeth I had no such plans. Instead, she included within her court the ambassadors of Spain and France – representatives of two nations who had every reason to wish her harm.

She included them in her discussions and really listened to what they had to say. She knew that they had wisdom and perspectives to share which led to her making better decisions and to build strong relationships.

Learning from other Inspirators

Elizabeth I is a great example of an Inspirator – someone who takes a lead in their life and is the example to others despite great challenges. IT is to create more people like her that I wrote my latest book:

If you want to learn how to take the lead in your life and to create a legacy, start by taking a look at my free video on the three secrets to taking the lead in your life at https://petecohen.com/coaching/

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